Mold Loves Empty School Buildings, AMRestore Kicks It Out

Mold Loves Empty School Buildings, AMRestore Kicks It Out

Mold can be a problem in any building, but at a university, it can be particularly serious. However, testing buildings for mold, particularly on a large busy campus, can be time-consuming, expensive, and unreliable. Since the best defense against a mold problem is prevention or at least early diagnosis, a comprehensive maintenance and remediation plan is a must to keep students safe, and buildings operational.

The number one cause of mold is dampness, so it is paramount to keep potentially moldy spaces dry. If there is a leak or seasonal dampness, this must be addressed as soon as possible, since mold can cause serious health issues, or make certain pre-existing health conditions worse. Since mold spores are most likely to be inhaled, the potential health issues include allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory issues. This makes preventing mold an important consideration for schools and universities, particularly in dorm buildings.

Mold is a common occurrence and can grow anywhere that moisture and oxygen are found. This makes it virtually impossible to eliminate all the mold spores in an indoor environment. Inside, mold can lie dormant in dusty areas only to be disturbed by movement, even something like routine vacuuming or cleaning. Because of this resilience, controlling indoor moisture and ventilation is the most effective way to prevent or remediate mold growth.

Schools and universities are particularly at risk due to the age and construction of many campus buildings. Mold is more than happy to grow on wood, paper, old cardboard, gypsum (drywall), old carpeting, and even dust. Many old schools and university buildings haven’t always had the best upkeep and as these old building materials break down, they become the perfect place for mold to grow.

But mold also needs moisture and oxygen. Many of these older buildings have aging plumbing and HVAC systems that leak water or coolant, creating the perfect damp environment. Buildings built between the 1970s and 1990s also tend to feature better sealing than buildings that came before but may lack adequate ventilation leading to moisture buildup. Moisture can also come from leaky roofs, gutters, and groundwater that collects under older buildings.

Once the mold has been detected it must be addressed immediately, both to prevent possible health issues and to keep it from spreading. The moldy space must be dried and controlled with the proper commercial equipment, including desiccant dehumidifiers. Depending on the composition of the materials the mold has grown on, they must be remediated or removed and replaced. Once space has been cleared of mold great care should be taken to keep the space dry and ventilated, otherwise, there is a good chance that the mold will return.

Working to prevent mold by increasing ventilation and dehumidifying the air can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run and protect students from potential health hazards. Older buildings are particularly at risk, and in turn, the risk to students in residential buildings such as dorms is far greater. Many universities have dealt with mold issues in dorms and classrooms, costing them thousands of dollars and displacing hundreds of students. In the last few years, Florida StateThe University of Louisville, and The University of South Carolina have all had to relocate students while dealing with mold issues that could have been prevented with better maintenance and ventilation.

Since mold grows naturally wherever it can find moisture and oxygen, it can be extremely difficult to fight, particularly when older buildings create the perfect environment for mold to thrive. Since mold is a health hazard, it is paramount that mold be prevented or, should it appear, be addressed quickly and effectively. AMRestore specializes in and has experience working to prevent dangerous mold growth. We have all the tools and expertise needed to overcome any mold issue. Learn more about AMRestore’s mold removal for universities today.

Document Preservation and Recovery: Experts Must Work Together to Keep Materials In Ideal Condition

Document Preservation and Recovery: Experts Must Work Together to Keep Materials In Ideal Condition

The ability to write down what has happened in the past is uniquely human. Until the current digital age, the majority of history was recorded with ink and paper. As historical documents get older and older, organizations are working to preserve them.

Paper documents are a vital element of human history, with origins that can be traced back to some of the earliest civilizations. As such, prolonging their lifespan is of great importance. Playing a large role in the continued preservation of documents is the Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA). According to the SIA, environmental factors, including temperature, humidity, light, and air quality, are recognized agents of deterioration known to negatively impact the integrity of paper documentation. Therefore, maintaining the environment in which they reside is a fundamental aspect of preservation.[1] But a true understanding of how paper interacts with its environment is critical to ensuring its appearance and longevity.

How Temperature and Humidity Effect Paper

One of the biggest culprits of paper deterioration is temperature. Heat incites accelerated deterioration, which doubles when the temperature rises by 18°F (10°C). And whether high or low, humidity is another ruinous foe. High relative humidity provides the moisture necessary to initiate harmful chemical reactions in materials. Further, in combination with high temperature, mold growth and insect activity may occur. Low relative humidity, on the other hand, which primarily occurs during the winter months within centrally heated buildings, can lead to desiccation and embrittlement of some materials.

According to the Northeast Document Conservation Center, archival materials are hygroscopic in nature—readily absorbing moisture from the air and releasing it.[2] As diurnal and seasonal temperature and humidity changes cause materials to expand and contract, rapid deterioration and visible damage such as cockling paper, flaking ink, warped book covers, and cracked emulsion on photographs can occur.

Proper Climate Control

For spaces that house these delicate materials, climate control is critical. Preservation is dependent upon the capability to stabilize temperatures and humidity levels. In addition, the area itself should also be climate-proofed—wall cracks should be plugged, and windows and doors should remain closed with proper sealing to prevent seepage. Experts have concurred that relative humidity should fall between the 30% to 50% range, and while there is no consensus regarding a specific “magic” temperature, most recommendations hover around 70°F. Research continues by the Museum Conservation Institute (MCI) to better understand how paper behaves in environments and how to best conserve it.

Document Preservation vs. Document Recovery

Because deterioration of materials can’t be eliminated, only slowed, the SIA and MCI center their efforts on preserving documents. Their strategies focus on learning more about how materials change and deteriorate, and discovering optimal environments to slow the process. Document recovery, however, is a different process altogether, coming into play when documentation has become the victim of water damage. At that point, it’s a race against the clock to save these ofttimes precious and valuable artifacts.

AMRestore Partners to Salvage Paper

In situations where advanced drying solutions are necessary, AMRestore can play a crucial role in restoring water damaged books and records. As a partner to the document conservation industry, AMRestore believes in the importance of document preservation. Their state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers use negative pressure, providing the most effective restoration drying solution for paper materials. AMRestore also employs a desiccant air-dry distribution system that absorbs moisture and dehumidifies incoming air.

For over 25 years, AMRestore has teamed up with libraries, museums and government agencies to safely and effectively abet document recovery efforts. Learn more about AMRestore’s document recovery processes here.


[1] https://siarchives.si.edu/what-we-do/preservation/introduction

[2] https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/2.-the-environment/2.1-temperature,-relative-humidity,-light,-and-air-quality-basic-guidelines-for-preservation

AMRestore: Protecting Your Family History

AMRestore: Protecting Your Family History

People all over the world are gaining interest in learning more about their family history. DNA tells us a lot about where we come from, but historic documents can give provide exquisite details. That is why these documents must be preserved.

The World Cup, while one of the most popular sporting events on the planet, hasn’t always been popular in the US. The event has become more popular in recent years, but as Americans grow to like soccer, there comes a problem; which team to cheer for? In the past, the US men’s team hasn’t gotten very far against superstars like Brazil, Portugal, or Germany, and this year they aren’t even in the competition. A clever marketing campaign by one of the 2018 World Cup partners, 23andme, offers Americans a chance to ‘root for your roots” by taking a DNA test to trace their genealogy back to their original place of origin.

Searching for Your Roots

All of this speaks to the fact that Americans are obsessed with genealogy. It makes sense; as a nation of immigrants, we all want to know where we come from. We don’t have the luxury of centuries of political or social history easily visible around us. As a part of this melting pot, we have all been blended together.  Knowing where we come from, even if it was hundreds of years ago, gives us a sense of identity and legitimacy. It grounds us in a society that lacks certain defining factors that are present in older places such as Europe or Japan. Services like 23andMe offer a simple quick-and-easy answer to the question of genetic identity, all wrapped up in a slick user experience.

Preserving Your Records

Thanks to affordable, accessible DNA testing and improved archival websites, US Americans are enjoying a renewed interest in their heritage. Internet resources such as ancestry.com provide the document trail to go with, but many people might not be aware of the treasure trove of documents that they actually have in their own homes. Every family has accumulated paperwork over the years that often sits piled in boxes in the attic or basement; birth certificates, naturalization papers, and love letters that sit forgotten for decades. These documents tell just as much about a family, if not more, than DNA and should be cared for properly. Storage is key to keeping these precious documents safe and intact. Paper can decay rather quickly and needs a climate-controlled environment to last. Humidity should be kept below 65% in order to prevent mold and insects from spreading through the paper, though too little humidity can actually cause the paper to dry out and become brittle. Paper should be stored below 75 degrees Fahrenheit in order to prevent decay. So hot attics, garages, and basements should be avoided. Papers should also be stored flat, rather than rolled up or simply stuffed in a box or drawer. The containers and folders that you use to store them should also be archival quality, meaning acid-free so as not to further degrade the paper.

AMRestore to the Rescue!

If these precautions fail and documents become damaged, you can contact AMRestore for help. Every year, we salvage millions of paper and film-based documents from damage caused by water, fire, and environmental factors. Documents that have suffered damage deteriorate extremely fast, and so it is important to work with a conservationist as soon as possible to halt the progression of decay. AMRestore uses the most technically advanced processes and equipment available to address the specific needs of each project and keep your precious documents safe.

Conservation is both an art and a science and, like both fields, requires a constant exchange of knowledge to improve. To learn more about our contents restoration service, check out this page: https://amrestore.com/index.php/contents-restoration-personal-property-cleaning/

 

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

AMRestore Saves School Materials When Mold Strikes

With summertime only a few months away, it’s time to start thinking about how excess temperature and moisture in school buildings work in concert to create an ideal environment for mold to thrive. High humidity, in particular, makes it easy for mold to damage soft goods. A wide variety of materials in school environments—ranging from musical instruments to library books—can serve as ideal media for mold growth. If you’re a school administrator dealing with the consequences of a mold outbreak, you may feel as if these items are a total loss.

The good news is that doesn’t need to be the case. In occurrences of mold damage, AMRestore’s document recovery solutions can help return school materials to working condition.

Mold Damage Shuts Down Popular School Activities

The “Sonic Boom” band at Stephen F. Austin High School in Houston, Texas, knows just how expensive mold damage can be. Over the summer, HVAC issues led to a mold issue that decimated 40 musical instruments and cases ranging from brass to woodwinds, resulting in thousands of dollars worth of damage. The incident caused many students to miss out on participating in halftime shows, parades, and other once-in-a-lifetime events.

Student-athletes and coaches at Fillmore Middle School in Fillmore, California, know the inconvenience of mold damage as well. The boy’s locker room, coach’s office, and stage area of the gymnasium building closed because of safety concerns when mold was found to be present in the drywall attic space over these areas. While repairs take place, coaches are being forced to use classrooms to conduct athletic activities and instruction—not an ideal situation.

Environments Where Mold Thrive

Mold grows when airborne mold spores land on a damp “food source,” such as wood, paper, carpet, insulation, and other building materials, and begin digesting it in order to survive. In schools, excess moisture could be present due to leaky roofs, pipes, windows, and foundations, or even from fresh paint or carpet cleaning. In fact, just the increased humidity of summer weather in building areas where the air conditioning has been shut off can be enough to trigger mold growth. Thus, it’s not much of a stretch to recognize that materials such as schoolbooks, musical instruments, ceiling tiles, and carpeting can provide the perfect environment for mold spores to take hold and grow. The key to managing mold in schools: controlling moisture.

AMRestore Is the Best Solution Provider for Mold Growth and Damage in School Settings

AMRestore’s innovative equipment restoration technology employs state-of-the-art vacuum freeze-drying chambers that use negative pressure to create the industry’s most effective drying solution, capable of returning school materials to working condition rapidly. And AMRestore’s desiccant air-dry distribution system is an energy-saving technology that provides customers real-time access to documents as they complete the restoration process.

Learn more about our document recovery solutions here.

When Art, Culture, and History are at Stake, It’s Time to Call AMRestore

When Art, Culture, and History are at Stake, It’s Time to Call AMRestore

Political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator Marcus Garvey once stated, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” As such, valuable historical texts, books, documents, artworks, and ancient artifacts enable future generations to learn about their past, enabling discoveries of humankind’s triumphs and foibles over the years, engendering understanding that will allow for a better future.

Thus, after a flood or other disaster, it’s critical for museums, churches, libraries, municipalities, archives, and historical societies to quickly and properly restore their most valuable historical items to avoid further damage and decay. This preservation process, an essential part of document management, begins with choosing the right restoration partner.

Preserving Archival Material is Important for Historical and Cultural Reasons

Although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, when it comes to historical collections, conservation and preservation are two different concepts. In general, conservation refers to proactive steps taken to ensure the proper physical treatment of individual damaged items. For example, a fragile historical document that had been incorrectly framed by an amateur might be mounted on acid-free paper and put behind UV-resistant glass to ensure it does not degrade further.

On the other hand, the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works defines preservation as activities that minimize chemical and physical deterioration and damage and prevent loss of informational content. This broad concept includes not only disaster planning, but also activities such as treatment, replacement, or reformatting that address existing damage.

To ensure the permanence of their collections, earlier, less technologically advanced generations simply recorded the words of historical documents by publishing them; but as technology advanced, archivists began to use microfilm as a medium for preservation and document management. However, by the mid-20th century, rather than just capturing or copying the information, archivists increasingly saw the value in preserving the original documents themselves before they deteriorated.

These Materials Have Commercial Value as Well

The term intrinsic value is used by the National Archives and Records Service to describe historical materials with qualities and characteristics that should be retained in their original physical form, rather than as copies. Of course, these records may have significant monetary value as well—that’s why historical documents are routinely appraised for insurance replacement, probate, donation, purchase, sale, historical, and research purposes.

So, when disaster strikes, the monetary losses can be devastating, such as the numerous examples of water-related library disasters. In 1975, for instance, the Case Western Reserve University Library was flooded, saturating and muddying approximately 40,000 books and 50,000 maps, resulting in a recovery cost of $540,000. And when floods struck Prague in August 2002, extensive collections in more than 40 libraries were destroyed and damaged—the damage to the National Library alone was estimated at $11,000,000.

Items of Cultural Relevance Exist in a Variety of Locations

Of course, valuable documents aren’t found only in libraries and museums. Municipal buildings, churches, historical societies, and other institutions may house rare and irreplaceable records as well. Literature, maps, letters, genealogy records, business contracts, and photographs are just a few of the cultural and historical archives that may be represented in these collections. And these documents need not always be connected with famous people or events to prove valuable. Just as important to historians is the record of everyday life within a culture, including rituals, religion, foods, art, and other facets that make a culture unique. Unfortunately, many of these documents may not be cataloged and may be stored in various offices, storerooms, boxes, and cabinets, or in even more out-of-the-way spots, such as under a staircase or in the attic.

Disaster Planning and a Restoration Partner are Integral When Disaster Strikes

Responding quickly to damage from water or other emergencies requires a disaster plan. A number of document recovery solutions, such as vacuum freeze drying, desiccant air drying, and cleaning and sterilization, can be employed to reverse much of the damage. When documents can’t be salvaged, digital imaging can often be used to capture the information contained in damaged records. To determine the best course of action in performing document management, it’s vital to employ the services of a restoration specialist partner with extensive experience in restoration. AMRestore is that partner.

By combining the passion for helping others with both experience and technology, the experts at AMRestore maintain high standards in service delivery. AMRestore has successfully dried and restored countless priceless contents. The AMRestore team prides itself on a quick response and unparalleled restoration of valuable archives. To find out more about how AMRestore can help with disaster recovery planning, contact us today.

Protect Your Valuables from Mold in the Winter Months​

Protect Your Valuables from Mold in the Winter Months

Here on the East Coast, winter weather can lead to high humidity levels. Indoors, the humidity combines with warmer temperatures and result in ideal conditions for mold growth. While works of art, antiques, and family heirlooms may seem safe under your roof, they can be susceptible to mold growth if they are not stored properly.

Where NOT to Keep Valuables

Laundry room: laundry machines create moisture that can tarnish fine metals, warp paper and be an ideal breeding ground for mold.

Bathroom: like the laundry room, bathrooms have natural sources of moisture that can make for particularly humid situations. Take your valuables out of the bathroom and be on the lookout for mold growth on walls, in cabinets, or on a shower curtain.

Kitchen: unlike our first two locations, kitchens tend to have windows. Keep all art and photographs away from the windows when it’s cold out. Also avoid the sink area, food preparation and cooking surfaces, and the areas around an oven and dishwasher. The heat, moisture, food particles and oil in a kitchen will cut the life of your valuables short.

Near windows: areas near windows tend to mimic the weather outside, especially if not sealed properly. Keep your heirlooms, photographs and antique findings away from windows.

Near heating vents, air conditioners, radiators, air purifiers, and humidifiers: while practical for maintaining a consistent temperature in a home, these items are not art-friendly.

Near a hot lamp or in an area that receives direct sunlight: while mold growth isn’t likely, the sun’s UV rays will quickly fade any art it touches. Hot lamps can cause art and photographs to become dry and crack.

Ideally, art, antiques and family heirlooms should be stored somewhere with temperatures of 66 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity. As winter continues to bring low temperatures and more humidity, understand that certain valuables may need to be moved in order to avoid becoming a breeding ground for mold.

Even after employing these tips, mold outbreaks are possible. If a mold outbreak is affecting your family’s most valuable items, contact AMRestore. As restoration experts, we are your best chance of bringing your items back to their original condition and not causing further damage. Contact us immediately if you notice any mold growth in your home or on any valuable items.


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